Scalped: Dave & Tim show drew some 'cockroaches'
So you wanted tickets to the sold-out Dave Matthews/Tim Reynolds show on Saturday August 20 at the nTelos Pavilion? You could still get them even a day before the concert, but you might have paid a pretty penny more than the $50 per ticket most concertgoers paid. On Craigslist, for instance, one website– clickyticket.com– had a variety of seats available ranging from the low $400s up to nearly $800. One ebay listing brought in $1,500 for two VIP tickets– more than twice their $300 apiece face value.
According to Pavilion GM Kirby Hutto, scalping– when tickets are sold by a third party, most often for a profit– is an increasing problem at the Pavilion, thanks in part to the ever-higher-profile nature of the acts coming to Charlottesville.
"The whole scalping world has just exploded over the last few years," says Hutto, who notes that unlike D.C., Virginia has no laws prohibiting the resale of tickets, no matter how high the profit margin. That leaves Virginia venues without much recourse, says Hutto, noting that if a scalper mentions the actual seat number in an online ad, the Pavilion may cancel the ticket and then resell it. Most scalpers, however, are craftier than that and list only the section or row of the tickets they're listing, making it nearly impossible to determine which tickets are being sold fraudulently.
Even if you have hundreds of dollars to spend, buying a ticket from a third-party seller is risky business.
"A lot of people are getting ripped off completely," Hutto explains, noting that certain particularly unscrupulous scalpers make counterfeit tickets, which will be worthless when the ticketholder shows up on concert night.
"It becomes a customer service issue because the guy who took their money is long gone," Hutto says, describing understandably upset patrons who may have traveled long distance and paid big bucks only to be turned away at the gate.
"It's a pain in our existence, both to fight these scalpers and to deal with the aftermath of the ones that are outright thieves."
Such unscrupulous scalping tactics seem even more egregious in the case of the Dave and Tim show, given that it was a charity event, with ticketholders asked to visit justgive.org to select the charity they'd like to receive the full original value of their ticket plus fees. Fortunately, says Hutto, even those people who purchased scalped tickets are able to donate the face value of the ticket– assuming the scalper hasn't already chosen the charity– and that the ticket is a real one.
The Pavilion boss has simple advice for making sure your tickets will actually gain you entrance.
"I would never give anyone cash for the ticket until I've seen the ticket," says Hutto, reminding concertgoers that all Pavilion tickets are printed on nTelos Wireless Pavilion ticket stock and feature an image of the Pavilion in the background and a barcode.
"I've seen ads where it says 'two lawn tickets, two great seats,' and at that point you don't know what you're getting," says Hutto. "An event like this brings out some of the cockroaches who see an opportunity to make easy money. If people aren't savvy, they can get ripped off."
If it looked like scalpers were getting their comeuppance at presstime, with bidding on some ebay listings holding steady right at the ticket's face value, that changed hours before the show. A pair of upper orchestra seats offered by Kansas-based "getmetickets" pulled in $430– nearly triple face value. And a single lawn ticket (with Water Street garage parking pass thrown in) sold for $215, more than four times its $50 face value.
–Updated for print publication Monday, August 22 at 5:10pm